Answers to 10 of the Most Common Questions People Have About Owning a New Puppy

Puppies are super cute, but they’re a big responsibility. Whether you’re new to owning puppies or a seasoned puppy parent, you may have a lot of questions when you bring home that sweet bundle of fur. To help you out, we've rounded up 10 of the most common queries dog owners have about puppies. We’ve got answers on everything from housebreaking and socialization to vaccines and veterinary exams. Of course, if your puppy question isn’t answered here, you can always ask your veterinarian orsearch for it on

10 FAQs About Puppies

Puppy accident on green rug


1. How can I housebreak my puppy?

Your puppy won’t be fully potty trained overnight. It takes time and patience, and every puppy learns at his own pace. However, you can help speed up the process by crate-training your young dog. Once he’s comfortable with his crate, he’ll see it as his safe haven and probably won’t want to soil it. As a general rule of thumb, your pup can hold it only for as many hours as his age (in months). For instance, if he’s 2 months old, he should go out every two hours to prevent an accident. If your dog does have an accident, don’t punish him or stick his nose in it. Interrupt him with an “oops” and take him outside to go to the bathroom.

These tips will help you get started. For more advice on potty training your puppy, check out Mikkel Becker’s trainer-approved tips.

Puppy getting veterinary exam


2. What can I expect at my puppy’s first veterinary exam?

First, the veterinarian or veterinary technician will take your puppy’s vitals and ask for his health history. If you brought a stool sample, the specimen will be checked for evidence of intestinal parasites. Next, the veterinarian will examine your puppy from nose to tail to check for signs of disease, abnormalities and external parasites. Depending on your puppy’s age and vaccination history, the veterinarian will administer the proper vaccinations. She may also give deworming medication and suggest a flea and tick preventive. Your puppy’s first exam is a great time to bring up the other questions in this gallery and any concerns you want your vet to address.

Dogs playing together


3. When can I take my puppy to the dog park?

In his first three months of life, you should introduce your puppy to as many people, places and experiences as possible, but with one major caveat: If he hasn’t gotten the proper vaccines yet, it’s not a good idea to take him to public places like the dog park, where he could contract a deadly disease like parvo. The dogs at the dog park could be ill or unvaccinated. It’s not worth the risk; wait until your vet gives the all-clear. In the meantime, read up on other do’s and don’ts for socializing a puppy.

Walking puppy on leash


4. When should I start training my puppy?

When it comes to training your puppy, there’s no need to wait. Start as soon as you bring him home. You’ll probably want to work on housebreaking, foundational commands like sit and stay — and stop him from chewing all your favorite pairs of shoes. Mikkel Becker says you should also work on stopping his jumping behavior and teaching him to walk on a loose leash. That’s a lot! But you don’t need to do it all at once. Keep training sessions short and fun. Make sure to practice reward-based, positive reinforcement training techniques. You can learn more about this effective training method here.

Puppy getting vaccine


5. Which vaccinations does my puppy need?

There are four core vaccines all puppies should get: rabies virus, canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis) and canine parvovirus. The rabies vaccine is a one-time vaccine for puppies, but boosters are required (normally every three to four weeks) for most other puppy vaccines. Your veterinarian will discuss the recommended vaccine schedule with you. Also ask your veterinarian about optional vaccines for diseases like Bordetella (kennel cough), Lyme disease, leptospirosis and canine coronavirus.

Puppy chewing toy


6. How can I get my puppy to stop chewing on everything?

If your dog chews up your favorite pair of shoes or gnaws away at the table leg, you might be to blame. After all, chewing is a natural dog behavior. When you leave something enticing in a young puppy’s path, chances are he’s going to chew it up. That’s why it’s up to you to puppy-proof your home — and get your whole family on board. If you think your puppy could eat an object — no matter how strange — get it out of his reach. That’s another reason why crates are so useful — they help keep your pup out of trouble. While you’re at it, give your puppy plenty of toys that are safe for him to chew on. Food puzzles and interactive toys can help keep his mind occupied. This is also a great time to teach him the “drop it” command to help keep him from ingesting inappropriate or dangerous items.

Puppy wearing E-collar


7. When should I spay or neuter my puppy?

In general, puppies should be spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity (usually around 5 or 6 months old) to prevent unwanted offspring. In some cases, larger breeds may benefit from a longer wait. Talk to your veterinarian about the best time to spay or neuter your puppy. There are many myths surrounding spaying and neutering, so it’s important to read up on the facts.

Puppy getting a bath


8. Does my puppy really need to be groomed?

Now’s the best time to start grooming your puppy. If you introduce him to nail trims, brushing and bathing now — instead of waiting until he’s an adult — he’s much more likely to be comfortable with being groomed as he gets older. The key is to offer plenty of treats and praise, and to keep grooming sessions short.

Big puppy


9. How big will my puppy get?

How big your puppy will get really depends on his breed. Giant breeds like Great Danes can weigh more than 100 pounds and may take 24 months or more to reach their full size. Toy breeds like Chihuahuas typically weigh only up to six pounds and may reach full size by 9 to 12 months. Oftentimes, male dogs are bigger than female dogs. If you have a mixed-breed dog, predicting his size may be a little trickier. In general, the bigger the paws, the bigger the dog. But that’s not always accurate!

Puppy eating from food bowl


10. How much does my puppy need to eat?

How much you should feed your puppy depends on the nutrient content and digestibility of the food (some foods are more nutrient dense than others); it also depends in part on your pup's size. Small-breed puppies may need to eat more frequent meals to avoid hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can be fatal. Small-breed puppies also have tinier teeth and should eat small-kibble food. If you have a Toy dog or a small puppy, feed him a commercial diet specially formulated for small puppies. When it comes to large- and giant-breed puppies, watch out for overfeeding. Many people assume they need to fill their puppies' bowls to the brim to help them grow big and strong, but too many calories may contribute to the development of skeletal disorders. If you have a large puppy, feed him a commercial diet specially formulated for large puppies. No matter your puppy’s size, talk to your veterinarian to learn how much and how often you should feed him.

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!